Ok, so the first question I usually ask my contestants, is to just tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your name and where do you come from?
Jimmy Ginn, Exeter born and bred, strong in the arm, thick in the head. Studied at Plymouth University on the Graphic Communication and Typography course there.
And how did you end up here then? Talk to me about that.
First got into graphics when I went to Copenhagen on holiday when I was 21, 22?
Oh okay, fairly late to the party then.
Yeah. I went to uni straight after college and did events management because I didn’t really know what else to do. I went because I was really into music and I was really naive and like ‘Oh yeah, well if I go into event management I’ll be managing Glastonbury in like five years, how sick would that be!?’ Anyway, didn’t like that, dropped out, came home, worked in a bar for a few years – an arts centre actually – and thinking about it now, that was probably where it all started.
At the time I was like ‘all these people are sound and I enjoy being around them’ and a lot of them are still some of my good friends, so I became interested in the arts through them. And then I started to see it everywhere. I started doing a bit of photography because my dad was always really interested in photography, then I made a few short films and I really enjoyed the process. But after all that I came to the realisation that if I want to get a job in that field, I’m going to have to be fucking SICK. Aren’t I?! Because you literally have to be amazing to make it.
A couple of years after this, I went to Copenhagen. I was just blown away, just thinking ‘everything is so nicely designed here’ from a doorknob to the posters at bus stops, to the logo on my coffee cup.
What was the first thing you ever designed?
I probably didn’t do anything until I started uni, in which case that would have been a Typography project for monotype. We had to design three posters, each focusing on a different font. I had Gill Sans, Helvetica and Bodoni I think…
Helvetica, ahh everyone’s font of choice at University
Well, Helvetica gets a bad wrap, but I still really like it. I think I like what it stood for at the time really. Graphics is such a judgy business so I feel like if you were to use it, it would be like ‘Ohhhh can’t you be more imaginative, using Helvetica agaaaaain’ but there’s a reason it’s ubiquitous.
So let’s do short term and long term, who are your biggest inspirations or influences at work?
I wouldn’t say there’s a particular designer now, but there are definitely styles that I like and keep getting drawn back to. So I would say Accept & Proceed, DIA and Collins.
And why those agencies in particular? Is it their output, or would you say it’s more their approach to design problems?
Yeah I think it’s the latter, although both are obviously amazing. I think it’s really important to have time to think about the project. On some recent projects here, we’ve had the time to work out some pretty abstract ideas, which has been great. Maybe they weren’t visualised in a perfect way, but what I like is that the idea is rooted in a really good place.
That’s the unknown in design, its that you have this idea and you never know what it’s going to look like, and that’s how it should be. You need a mood to give you ideas, not really a style or aesthetic I guess.
I’ve got two scales of design that I’ll always fall for a bit. One is the chaotic, heavily typographic work such as the kinetic typography DIA did for A-Track. Everything’s-moving-in-your-face kind of look. Then there’s the work that reminds me of my time at Graphic Thought Facility. The ULTRA stripped back clean minimal books and editorial work they have done make me want to really hone that as a skill. To get to know the binding and the stocks and the print finishes, and what you can do to paper is definitely a goal while I’m here at One Rise East.
DIA studio Nike basketball typographic animations (see here)
Like the unit editions books for example?
Yeah exactly, they are works of art, and the content is another work of art inside of that. Our industry values that as art, whereas a lot of other people, your everyday bloke, doesn’t really think of graphic design as art. They see it as a tool to sell or communicate something. Whereas something like book design or an abstract branding project can be valued in our industry as art.
I like the idea of designing something that sits on someone’s shelf, and their mate comes round and pulls it out and says ‘this book looks interesting’.
Yeah, I think that’s a desire for a lot of us here. The drive to say ‘I want to make something, and have it in ten years and still enjoy turning the pages.’
Title: FHK Henrion – The Complete Designer [Unit 13] (Unit Edition Books)
So you’re a big music man? Do you think that comes into your work? Do you have to have music when you’re designing?
Well, I have my headphones on mostly because I just can’t focus on my work without having some music on. I find background noise just distracts me. But I also found that it does help get you into a rhythm. To lose that sense of time in a job. My dad would listen to music all day every day and so to be growing up in a house where everyone would listen to music all day has made it my number one hobby. Going to gigs as much as I can, festivals, anything really.
Would you like to design album covers or even a music video?
Absolutely, and again there are loads of different approaches to design like that that I like. The beauty of an album cover in the space of graphic design is that there’s no real right or wrong. I love the idea of the brief being ‘listen to the album’ and show us what you think.
That definitely falls into the graphic art pot, rather than a brand identity which can be right or wrong as we saw with the recent Leeds United Crest.
Well, apparently that’s up for a redesign now. Shall we do it? Yeah fuck it! We should! Imagine that! One Rise East designing the new Leeds badge!
Anything else you want to get off your chest before we finish?
Written by Rich.